August was good to South America, setting up conditions and filling in lines so much so that the Latin American skiing community decided to pull together at the last minute and schedule a Freeride World Qualifier competition at Penitentes, Argentina, on September 4 and 5.
Because the competition was scheduled without any advanced notice, registration is open to all skiers, capping at 80 participants. Athletes do not have to be registered or licensed with the Freeride World Qualifier, and skiers can sign up to compete at the event. Licensed FWQ athletes who do participate will be allocated a two-star FWQ value on their result.
This event is the only big mountain skiing competition scheduled for South America this season. A nearly three-hour drive from Mendoza, Penitentes is a small ski area named after the rock spires that punctuate the terrain. “This spot is a bit off the radar for most, but features amazing terrain,” says Tom Winter, the Freeride World Tour Americas manager.
“It turns out that [Penitentes] is perfect for an event,” Winter told Powder.com in an email. “There are a variety of venues and the terrain is fantastic. The entire valley is spectacular, and while the ski area is small, there are tons of hike-to options, both immediately above and adjacent to the resort as well as along the highway. It’s really a hidden gem and I’m really impressed with the potential here.”
For more information about the event, visit the Facebook page. Here are few travel tips from the event organizers:
- Penitentes is remote. There is no WIFI and cell service is limited.
- The closest ATM is in Uspallata, a 35-minute drive down the valley toward Mendoza.
- Most businesses in Penitentes take cash only.
- If driving from Chile into Argentina, the border is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The road goes through a high-alpine environment and can close without notice due to storms or other issues.
- If you have a Chilean vehicle, you will need to obtain special insurance and other documentation of ownership.
- USA citizens need to pay a $160 reciprocity fee to visit Argentina, which is good for 10 years.